Customer care in Uganda

Hello everyone,

The way customer services are handled can greatly affect your views on certain brands, products, companies or stores. As a consumer, it is important to get familiar with local practices regarding client assistance in Uganda and try to understand how things work in the country.

How would you describe your customer service experiences in Uganda?

Do you feel welcome when you enter a store? Do you get useful tips and advice?

Are after-sales services available in Uganda?

Thanks for sharing your experience,


Dear priscilla.
In Uganda most retail stores are owned and operated by Gujarati and Ugandan people.
Gujarati community is basically trader community and very dominant in East Africa region.
Store people welcome you but will not disclose each and every detail they know.
You are not supposed to educated by store people.
As a westerner you may find many a things in store you really do not know much about.
Generally they do not cheat or lie but will keep mum when it hurts their business interest.
They can exchange unused sealed product if you have evidence of purchase from their store.
Generally most of goods are Imported from India and china..Some of them manufactured in East Africa region by same group of people (North and west Indian people).
You can ask them question and can retrieve information acting cleverly.

I have lived in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. I would say the customer service here in Uganda leaves a lot to be desired. I don't believe there is an understanding of the connection between good customer service and a successful business. Many salespeople can't give me the information I want and seem to lack any knowledge of the competition or use of the item in question. Most of the time I feel I am bothering the salespeople by coming into their store and they'd much rather be left alone to play on their phones or rest. I have had to lower standards and this is coming after three years in East Asia.

From a Canadian perspective, Customer Service as we know it, is non-existent in Uganda, or East Africa for that matter.  I have lived in East Africa for the past 12 years; traveled and worked in 19 different countries on the African continent; so, I have had a little exposure to the issue of service.

Let me tell you a little story:  Last year I returned to Canada for a short visit and had the opportunity to go shopping in a supermarket.  I chose a razor; it was on sale for 9.99 Canadian dollars.  When I got to the cash register, the attendant rang it up on the register as 14.,99 dollars.  I told her this was wrong and she immediately called for someone to check it out.  The person returned to tell us that I was correct and the razor is priced at 9.99 dollars.  She then told me there would be no charge and I can go with the razor.  This is what I call customer service.

I have spoken of this experience to a number of East Africans and they can hardly believe it's true.  Here on the African continent, the norm is once you buy something, its yours.  If there is a problem, its yours too.  There is virtually no after sales service.  There are a few exceptions such as the larger supermarkets in Kampla, Jinja and Masaka...but on the whole, returning something is difficult.

There is virtually nothing in Canada that you can buy that you cannot return if there is a problem.  We have what is called the "Lemon Law"; if you buy a car, new or used and in the first 30 days something goes wrong, you have the option to return it and get your money back.  I have bought fruit that turned out too ripe, and I threw it away.  The next time I was in the shop, I told them, and I was instructed to pick the same fruit to replace it .... without the bill or any proof of purchase.  This is customer service.

Africa has a long way to go with Customer Service; I imagine Africans waste lots of money buying sub-standard products that they have to discard and replace in a short time period.  It is sad to hear story after story of poor people in particular buying things that do not work shortly after they bought them.

There are many stories to tell, one could write a book.  Conversely, there are few positive experiences regarding good customer service.  Customer Service is just not there.

The best thing for expats,  in my opinion is to buy as little as possible locally and when one does come across something that disappoints, try to think of all the positive things about Africa and move on.  And there are so many positives, this issue should not even ruin your day.

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